Today, we kick off a new series of creator profiles with Nicole S. Young, a photographer, educator and entrepreneur based in the countryside near Portland, Oregon.
Like many of visual storytellers, Nicole Young has spent years investing in her knowledge of traditional photo editing. Despite ten years spent mastering several such tools, she longs for a simpler way. She’d rather spend more time taking pictures and far less time editing them.
As a long-time Luminar user, we were excited to put LuminarAI in her hands and see how it helped inspire her creativity and save her time.
The joy of discovery
Nicole loves creating. In addition to photography, she enjoys pottery and cooking. She knits with yarn she dyed herself. And, she is teaching herself to code. To Nicole, discovery is a big reason for creative expression.
“When I go hiking, I like to photograph mushrooms. If I wasn't a photographer I probably would never even look for them.” she explains, “When I go out to the forest with my macro lens on my camera, my eyes really focus on the ground and on the trees looking for these tiny little wonders, these things just popping out of the ground.”
And, while her other creative pursuits require learning new things too, none require her to slow down and observe the world with such an attentive eye. “I'm so grateful I found photography because I feel my life is more fully lived because of it.” said Nicole.
Were it not for photography, Nicole says she would not travel as much or appreciate her destinations the same way. “When I travel, I travel for photography; I go specifically to create photos. I actually see a lot more of the places I go because I'm trying to find beautiful photographs.”
Discovery, coupled with a love of rich color and the power of the visual story, are the cornerstones of Nicole’s unique creative vision.
Perfecting the edit
Like most photographers, Nicole prefers to be behind her camera in the field, not behind her desk editing. So, she is very diligent about building efficient, effective editing workflows, always starting with the basics — exposure and color balance.
“Color correction and exposure balance is like laying down the primer coat before painting a wall,” she says, “You're setting the stage to add more to the image. You definitely need to take these steps, but it's the busy work of photo editing. This is one of the reasons I really like Luminar. With their tools, I can edit a photo in probably 30 seconds. My favorite tool is probably Enhance, I use it and AccentAI slider on almost every photo.”
Quick, reliable results are the fruit of well-designed workflow. Moving from Luminar 4 to LuminarAI, Nicole is already seeing the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) further streamlining her already effective process.
“The AI in LuminarAI is more beneficial than I thought. For example, I’ll use the EnhanceAI tool on the first photo in a series. Then, I sync all photos in the series to that edit. That seems simple but all of the photos are going to be just a little different even if they're in the same series. LuminarAI actually looks at each photo individually, then modifies the EnhanceAI setting on each image to get the best result.”
One concern often raised about the use of AI in image editing is the possibility of surrendering creative control to the AI. Nicole does not share this concern.
“I now have a set routine within LuminarAI. And, even though a lot of its tools are very quick. I'm not taking anything away from my creative process by making it go a lot faster. I’ve come to trust LuminarAI to do the tedious work for me.” said Nicole.
How does AI change photo editing?
As an experienced photo editor who has used almost every tool on the market, Nicole understands how much work goes into learning traditional photo editing: “It took me about five years to get somewhat proficient with traditional editing, and maybe another five years to feel I had really mastered it.”
As a result, Nicole empathizes with folks just starting to learn how to edit their photos: ”When most people open a traditional editing application, they are overwhelmed.” Recalling her own experience, she says “There are just so many sliders and panels and menu items, they really don't know where to start.”
Nicole is a fan of LuminarAI and how it changed her approach to photo editing. AI dramatically reduces the steep learning curves previously needed to edit images. She benefits from the speed at which AI allows her to work while still allowing her full creative control over the final image.
“When people get to know a photographer, they come to expect a certain style. I've had people say when they saw one of my photos; they knew it was mine before they saw I was the one who shared it,” Nicole explains, “so I definitely want to maintain my style throughout the editing process. LuminarAI has naturally integrated itself with my style of post processing; making it faster and more efficient, without requiring me to give up any creative control.”
Saving time matters
Time is important and AI saves Nicole lots of it. “I don't want to spend more time editing photos than I do actually creating photos.” says Nicole. “I’d much rather spend time with my friends, cooking dinner or hiking. All these things are way more fun than editing photos!”
As part of this new series of creator profiles, we ask folks to share one piece of advice they think is important for photographers and visual storytellers. Nicole did not disappoint:
“Pick one photo that encompasses the story being told. To be honest, I probably undershare. I'm very selective about what I put out there. I want each photo I post to be very representational of me and my style.”